Key principles for the global space economy

Council conclusions, 11/11/2020

On the 11th of November, the European Council has adopted a set of conclusions entitled “Orientations on the European contribution in establishing key principles for the global space economy“.

With this text, the objective of the Council is to establish a coordinated position between the European Union and its Member States. On the 20th of November, ministers will discuss how to enhance European competitiveness in the global space economy and shape international regulatory regimes. With the Council conclusions, they will prepare the tenth Space Council[1], to be held by videoconference immediately after.

The Council conclusions acknowledge the valuable contribution of a highly competitive European space industry to the global growth of the space economy. The text also provides key orientations for the future European Space policy in the context of the Covid-19 crisis and the twin transition (green and digital strategies).

Recognizing the crucial role of the space industry to build a competitive and robust European Space Economy, the Council has pointed out specific key points regarding the downstream sector:

  • Contribution to the European competitiveness

The European institution representing Member states recognizes in these conclusions the important role of the downstream sector in contributing to the European competitiveness by “creating jobs and benefitting non space sectors”. The Council stresses the necessity to focus on an innovation strategy for New Space, targeting specifically an increased commercialisation, competitiveness and efficiency in the mid and long term.

The Council also points out the necessity of a “new approach” to encourage space entrepreneurship by promoting access to finance and various funding opportunities, in particular for start-ups, scale-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises and mid-caps in order to yield their full innovation potential.

  • Role in the mitigation of the Covid-19 crisis

The Council highlights the “specific role downstream applications play in managing and mitigating the Covid-19 crisis” by giving the examples of three key sectors: transportation, resource management and telecommunications. In this context, the Council also stresses the important role of the space sector for the recovery and notes that the European common objective to overcome the productivity crisis will benefit for “the revitalisation of the space industry via opportunities opened by the various public recovery measures”.

  • Support of the European green and digital transitions

In the alignment of the conclusions of the 4th of June 2020 about “Space policy for a sustainable economy”, the Council reiterated its political position regarding the important contribution of Earth science and European space data to the environmental objectives set by the European Green Deal.

The Council mentions the essential role of the downstream sector “for evaluating and implementing public policies, in particular the green and the digital transition of economies and societies (…)”. In that regard, the text supports the importance of fostering cooperation between space and non-space sectors in the following fields: energy, environment, agriculture, health, connectivity and mobility.

The Council also reaffirmed its support of the Copernicus Programme by encouraging the European Commission and the European Space Agency to prepare for “full and improved continuation of the Copernicus space and service components (…) with the aim of the full development of the six Copernicus expansion missions”.

What this means for the industry?

These conclusions and the tenth Space Council are important for the industry because they set the scene for future European Space policy orientations. In the context of the pandemic crisis and the recovery plan, ministers will be invited to exchange views on what actions of the EU, ESA and their respective member states are needed to: build a globally competitive and robust European space economy and support recovery from COVID-19 crisis; foster European space autonomy, security and resilience; enhance European space cooperation, including in the green and digital transitions.

These discussions will provide the European Commission with key elements to build a long-term strategy for the growth of the European space sector and help set the budgets for the space programme.

[1] The Space Council is a joint meeting of the EU Council and of the European Space Agency (ESA) Council at ministerial level.

Author: EARSC

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